How To Clean A Washer

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Washing machines are one of the dirtiest appliances in your home. This can be surprising to many because they're supposed to make clothes clean. Over time, they collect mold and mildew from wet clothes, soap scum, and residue from laundry detergent. With all these, they'll automatically get dirty over time.

 When you notice that your machine is not cleaning properly or you have a smelly washing machine, it should be a sign that it's dirty. It's time to give it a good cleaning and restore its good hygiene. Cleaning your washing machine will help get rid of any buildup inside that may be causing problems with its performance.

 With the simple steps below, you can easily clean a washing machine at home without hiring an expensive appliance repair person. Here is your simple guide to deep cleaning your washing machine.

1. Prepare Your Cleaning Supplies

Before washing your washing machine, collect the supplies you will need to clean it. You'll need several cleaning supplies for this job, but the good news is that you probably already have them around the home. For those that are not in your home, you can simply purchase them at a nearby store.

Cleaning Supplies
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These cleaning supplies include:

  • Lint-free cloth or rag and warm water
  • A toothbrush or your washing machine's washing tool
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Paper towels or clean rags to dry with

To make your work easy, you need to have all these supplies within your reach. You don't want to keep running in and out of your laundry room to find the right washing tool or a rag.

To start cleaning your washer, you will need all the washing supplies you have purchased or gathered together and ready to use. You may also consider laying down a piece of paper towel on the floor next to your machine so that any water from washing can be collected in one place. 

2. Start with the Outside of Your Washer

 Before you go to the inside of your washing machine, think about washing the parts you can see first. The drum can gather a lot of dirt from outside and also from washing clothes. The detergent drawer can drip and stain the outside of your machine.

 To properly clean the exterior of your washer, you will need to fill a bucket or large bowl with warm water and detergent. Use an abrasive sponge or towel (such as a scouring pad or steel wool) to rub the stains off your washing machine. Be careful not to scrape the surface of your appliance too deeply, as it can take off some of the finish. 

3. Unplug and Remove Any Laundry Inside

Make sure there's no laundry or other articles in your washing machine before you set to washing it. Start by unplugging the washer and removing any laundry that may be inside. Unscrew the top of your machine, then remove any clothing or accessories from inside before cleaning.

Remove Any Laundry Inside
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 To effectively clean your washing machine, it needs to be completely empty. Only the components of the machine and the drum should remain. Learn how to clean the upholstery that's not part of the machine separately.  

4. Use a Vacuum Cleaner to Remove Any Lint Inside Your Machine

 If there's any loose lint or leftover detergent inside the washer, it may clog your washing machine filter or prevent it from spinning. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean out lint that may be stuck in crevices and tight spaces along with the drum.

 The hose of your vacuum should be able to reach all areas of the machine. This will make it easier for you to remove all the lint and clean your washer thoroughly.

5. Clean the Drum and Inner Lid of Your Washing Machine

With washing machines getting dirtier every washing cycle, it's essential to clean out the drum. You may want to clean both sides of the drum with warm soapy water and a washing machine cleaner or detergent that's formulated specifically for washers. [Don't use washing machine detergent with other washing or laundry products.]

Get a soft-bristled brush and clean the inside of the washing machine drum. Use your vacuum to clean out any lint accumulated between the drum wall and inner washer lid. This will prevent it from clogging up your washing machine drain hose.

6. Soak the Removable Parts in a Cleaning Solution 

Your machine has many parts that accumulate layers of residue. These include rubber gasket, hoses, washer tub drains, fabric softener dispenser, detergent dispenser, and rubber seals. The best way to clean these parts is to soak them in a cleaner or detergent solution overnight, so the stains soften up.

You can add baking soda to the washing machine cleaner or detergent solution to make it even more effective. 

soap water solution
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

7. Rinse All Parts Under Running Water

Once all parts have soaked in washing machine cleaner or detergent overnight, they'll need to be rinsed thoroughly under running cold water. The parts will need to be rinsed for at least 5 minutes each so that no washing machine cleaner residue remains on them. 

8. Run a Hot Cycle with White Vinegar and Baking Soda

 The next step is to run a normal cycle with hot water and white vinegar, then fill the drum halfway with warm water. Next, add 2 cups of baking soda and start the washing machine. Let it run through the wash cycle to clean out any residue leftover from your washing machine cleaner or detergent solution.

 Ensure the machine runs a complete circle with the hottest water setting to rinse any residue and washing machine cleaner. The solution and the hot water will also get rid of any odor. 

9. Run Another Complete Cycle

 For the second circle, add baking soda to the washing chamber, and the rinse cycle. Then run another complete hot water wash cycle without any laundry detergent, bleach, or vinegar soak. This cleaner will disinfect your washing machine and leave it smelling clean and fresh.

 Make sure the settings for the second circle are the highest and hottest. This washing cycle will be enough to clean and disinfect your washing machine.

10. Leave the Door Ajar and Let it Dry

 Once your washing machine's washing cycle is complete, leave the door open to allow it to dry out. It's always a good idea to let the air dry to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your washing machine. If you're in a hurry to use it and can't let it air dry, you can wipe it inside using a dry microfiber cloth. 

11. Plug in and Use

Now that the hot water wash cycle is complete and it's perfectly dry, you can use your washing machine again. Before this, make sure you clean the washer storage area be it the laundry room or under the kitchen sink. You can then try it out to see the difference it makes. A washing machine that has been cleaned and disinfected should rinse better, leaving less residue behind.

Cleaning a Washer FAQ

How often should you clean your washing machine?

How often you clean your washing machine depends on how often you use it and how dirty your washing machine gets. In general, you should clean the washers once a month if used frequently or twice a year if not in regular use to prevent mold buildup and bacteria growth. The cleaning frequency generally varies from household to household.

What's the best way to clean your washing machine?

The best cleaning method is washing your washer with washing powder and liquid. The latest washing machine brands also include an automatic cleaning cycle, which makes it easy to clean and remove dirt. You might want to avoid these washing machine brands that don’t include the cleaning cycle. You can use various cleaning solutions such as baking soda, white vinegar, and other commercial products.

What are the best washing machine cleaners? 

Wash your machine regularly and use washing powder with a complex system of enzymes that attack dirt particles. A washing powder will also reduce mold and mildew buildup from your machine and make it more effective. 

Other commercial washing products include cleaner tablets, limescale remover, and w washing powder. These are usually best for machines that use hard water and are likely to have several mineral deposits. You should, however, avoid bleach and such like cleaning products. If possible, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your washing machine.

What are the best homemade products for cleaning your washing machine?

When cleaning your washing machine, you can use commercial washing products or use DIY washing machine cleaner. One of the best homemade washing products is the washing machine washing soda.

Yeast is another product that you can use as a washing powder. To use yeast as a cleaner for your washing machine, you need to mix it with salt, sugar, and water.

 Vinegar is commonly recommended as an alternative cleaning product. It is highly effective in washing machines. Another alternative to washing soda and vinegar water is baking soda which can be used as washing powder since it has a good cleaning effect.

Do all washing machines require the same cleaning methods?

All washing machines are cleaned the same way. You won’t need a different method to clean top loading washing machines and a different one for front load washers. The only thing that makes a difference between the top loading washer and front load washer is how you’ll load your laundry in them.

Washer Cleaning Bottom Line

 Washing machines are one of the essential appliances to have at home. But as much as they make your laundry work easy, they also get dirty with time. 

 When they get dirty, they smell bad and clean your clothes poorly. A clean washing machine can help to protect your health as it will not carry fungus and germs that might cause allergies. It also enables you to save on washing costs because washing machines that are clean use less water and detergent when washing clothes. Understand how much water your washing machine uses so you know if you’re saving or wasting water on a dirty washer.

 Cleaning your washing machine is easy if you keenly follow the steps above. Do the cleaning regularly after every few uses or once a month. You can also look for some DIYs like DIY washer repairs or DIY water filtration systems.

If you do this, you'll end up with a clean and effective washer.



Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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